Ibiza’s hedgehog hospital

CAN HOG

It soon becomes apparent once you step foot on Ibiza, that it’s an island full of surprises. Spend a little more time here and you discover that the white isle doesn’t in fact, revolve around clubbing; that there’s an abundance of beautiful flora and fauna; and that it’s home to a community of kind, welcoming locals who throw open their arms not only to tourists but also to the island’s indigenous wildlife. Take Adila Hiam, for instance. She’s the founder of Can Hog Ibiza, a rescue centre for unwell and injured hedgehogs and hoglets – the spiky little creatures that roam Ibiza’s wild and verdant countryside.

Hedgehogs are found throughout Europe. Mammals with squishy little faces and pointy spines sticking out of their backs, these animals live a nocturnal life, spending most days curled up sleeping beneath bushes, rocks and underground dens. By night, they feed on insects, snails, frogs, toads, and importantly, snakes, which have populated so rapidly in Ibiza in recent years that they’re now considered a pest. Hedgehogs can live to the grand old age of seven in the wild, though unfortunately, they’re easy prey for dogs and other large animals. They also like to eat slugs, which contaminate them with a parasitic disease called lungworm, and sadly, they are very bad at crossing roads. All of these factors combined led Adila to open Can Hog.

"25 hedgehogs are dropped off at CAN HOG MONTHLY"

“Initially it wasn’t meant to be anything serious,” Adila explains. “We used to find hedgehogs and look after them. But then I did a course back in the UK and that gave me the knowledge I needed to be officially registered as a caregiver.” Indeed, hedgehogs in Ibiza are protected animals, and that means that a licence is required to look after them. As the only registered person on the island alongside fully trained vets, it’s become Adila’s responsibility to nurse the island’s rampant hedgehog population back to earth – a job that she enjoys, but by no means an easy one.

Each month, Adila estimates that around 25 hedgehogs are dropped off at her door. Some have injuries like dog bites, some have been run over, and some are suffering from lungworm. She even found one hedgehog on her doormat – it had checked itself in for treatment! It goes without saying that seeing them get better and releasing them back into the wild is a hugely gratifying task, but it’s also a time-consuming one. Adila spends each morning cleaning out the hedgehog hospital and making sure each one of them is watered and well fed. “They take a long time to heal,” she affirms. “Sometimes they can be with me for up to six weeks.”

"anyone keen to help can make a donation"

To help Adila with her mission, the island’s close-knit community has bandied together to help fund Can Hog. In its initial stages, Adila herself was funding the food, housing and medical bills of each hedgehog patient, but in recent months there’s been a definite spike in support from island residents. Fundraisers have been held on Can Hog’s behalf, hedgehog-inspired car stickers are being sold at shops across the island, and some people have been offering their time and attention to help try and lighten the load. While all this is brilliant, there’s much more that can be done. “I’m trying to get more people involved to help me,” Adila says. And we can each play a part.

For starters, anyone keen to help can make a donation – just a small amount can help with weekly feeding costs and help towards its care bills. Adila has created a social media group where each member pays just one euro a month towards supporting the hedgehogs, and naturally the more people on board, the better. It’s a relatively unnoticeable amount but it makes a huge difference on a hedgehog’s path back to health. Islanders can also help by fostering a hedgehog. Initial treatment for conditions like lungworm usually takes around 10 days, but after this point, the hedgehogs just need a little tender loving care. It’s a huge help – firstly because it frees up space at the sanctuary, and secondly because it allows Adila to accept more hedgehogs that are in more imminent danger. Once they’ve been given the all clear, they can be released back into the wild, in a specially sourced location that’s far away from roads, swimming pools, and other dangers.

"recruiting volunteers and always welcoming cat food donations"

Those wanting to look after the wild hedgehogs in their own surroundings are encouraged to scatter cat food (not fish flavoured – it’s not good for the hedgehogs) and water (never milk), so that they’ve got an easy source that doesn’t require crossing roads to reach. Similarly, if anyone has land on the island that might be suitable to release the now-healthy hedgehogs into, they’re encouraged to get in touch. Adila is also keen to recruit volunteers and always welcomes cat food donations. “I’m getting a lot of help from people,” she smiles. “But it’s only me so I can always use more.”

Adila is also hoping to encourage visiting families to make Can Hog a stop on their holiday itineraries. “I think it’s great for kids to learn about these animals,” she says. “Ordinarily you don’t see them in the wild so it’s a really good experience for them.” She’s open to organising visits according to when people can visit, so she can share her knowledge so even more people can help heal hedgehogs in need. In return, she hopes that visitors to Can Hog will leave a donation. The same appeal applies to anyone who drops off an unwell hedgehog – just a few euros will contribute to its food and care and ensure that it gets well as quickly as possible.

"They’re such gorgeous creature"

Protecting Ibiza’s environment and the animals that roam it has never been so important. Thanks to Adila and Can Hog, the hedgehog population has a much stronger chance of thriving. But it’s all of our responsibility to help, and all it takes is a little effort to contribute to an operation that’s already doing so much. “They’re such gorgeous creatures when they’re well,” Adila says. “And they’ve all got their own personalities!” Let’s do all we can to get these cute little creatures back on the road to health

Contact our Guest Relations team if you’d like to arrange a visit to Can Hog during your time in Ibiza.

E: guestrelations.ibiza@7Pines.com                                                  T: +34 971 195 200

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